Although largely forgotten today, Mickey Cohen (September 4, 1912-July 29, 1976) was a celebrity gangster, the King of the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles until his conviction in 1951. Following four years in prison, he was more of a celebrity than a gangster. Despite a fascinating story and his friendship with movie stars and studio heads, he has received little attention from Hollywood aside from Bugsy (1991), where he was relegated to the role of Bugsy Siegel’s flunky, and L. A. Confidential (1997), which revolved around the struggle to replace him after he had been imprisoned. Admittedly, he was the villain in Gangster Squad (2013), but it was a big pile of suck, managing the unimpressive feat of being historically inaccurate and boring.
Mob City, Frank Darabont’s new series on TNT, will portray the decades-long war between Mickey Cohen and LAPD Chief William Parker. The series begins in 1947, when Cohen was Siegel’s right-hand man and Parker was still only an inspector, although he would become police chief in 1950. Siegel is unlikely to make it through the first season since he was killed in 1947 after wasting millions of Syndicate money on the Flamingo Casino in Las Vegas.
The show is based on John Buntin’s book L. A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City, which was a fascinating read, so the source material is good. Buntin revealed that there were no heroes during the war between the police and the gangsters, just men struggling for power. Since Cohen was a gangster, the series will undoubtedly present his ruthless personality, but Parker was extremely unpleasant, racist and a functioning alcoholic. Hopefully, the series will portray Parker’s less-savory characteristics as well.
Mob City will be an interesting companion to Boardwalk Empire, covering the period after everything had settled in Chicago and New York.